Images by Whitney Kamman
OPENING SPREAD: Using existing structures, the ranch camp features a right-sized main house (on the left) and a guest cabin (right) that is custom-made for entertaining.
Nestled between two river valleys and bordered by the Gallatin National Forest on three sides, this 8,100-acre Montana ranch offers a little bit of everything in the way of geographical features: sweeping views of the Absaroka Mountain Range, lush valley vistas, tributaries and ponds, and thick stands of pine trees. Herds of elk flourish here because the surrounding peaks form a natural barrier that protects the wildlife and the ranch’s cattle, and fish abound in the creeks that cut through the ranch.
The reclaimed wall in the stairway is a lovely contrast to the whitewashed ceiling that brightens up the space. The iron chandelier from Ralph Lauren features leather straps
“It’s one of the premier ranches in the area,” says Kathy Tatom of Tatom Design. “It’s a real-life Yellowstone ranch for sure, and one of my favorite projects to date. It’s really amazing.”
Tatom was part of the team that was assembled to breathe new life into the main ranch camp structures, including a complete overhaul of the unpretentiously elegant two-bedroom main lodge and a reconfiguration of an existing barn that was relocated and turned into a three-bedroom plus bunk room guest house. The top half of the barn was retrofitted over a new lower level to create the spacious guest home that is perfect for entertaining and hosting retreats.
Adding new doors and windows throughout the homes invites the amazing Montana scenery inside.
The reclaimed cabinetry and timbers carry the rustic elements into the guest cabin’s modern kitchen.
LEFT: The pretty hand-painted Tabarka tile goes from floor to ceiling in the powder room, giving the smaller space a ton of character. RIGHT: The guest home entryway hints at the story of the structure with reclaimed walls, perfectly imperfect timbers, and loads of natural light thanks to new windows and doors.
The guest house features a 12-foot-long dining table, a large sectional with a cowhide ottoman for gathering around the fire, and an antler chandelier crafted from sheds found on the ranch. The massive kitchen boasts a 14-foot-long island surrounded by sturdy barstools. In both residences, a lot of glass was brought in to frame the views and create a brilliance of natural light. The interior spaces were further brightened by white-washing the tongue-and-groove ceilings, and walls that were not clad in wood were painted a soothing cream color to make the interior space softer.
It’s all about the view in the main home’s primary bedroom where two leather and Native American upholstered swivel chairs sit in front of the picture window.
The owners are warm and welcoming people who wanted their home and guest house to be cozy and inviting. “The design of the main house and guest cabin pays homage to the West and to the ranch’s heritage, and Native American culture also played a part with rugs, artifacts, and artwork that we used,” Tatom describes.
Centre Sky Architecture was selected to design the overall master plan as well as hone in on a specific aesthetic that would tie all the individual structures together. The rustic ranch style of the main lodge and guest cabin was reinforced with the use of some of the existing materials on the ranch, including original wood and metals that were salvaged from old barns around the property. These authentic pieces were expertly combined with new materials and finished to blend into the historic ranch theme, where needed. A new garage and wellhouse—constructed of a mix of vintage and new materials finished to look aged to fit in—were also added to the ranch camp.
This welcoming guest bedroom overlooks the new pond that was added to the main camp’s landscape.
“There were several existing structures where the main camp was located, and we opted to use them,” explains Jamie Daugaard, Principal of Centre Sky Architecture. “It can be hard to work with existing structures because you’re stuck with the existing condition and size. But we worked through it, and we ended up with a good building layout for the owners. It turned out really well.”
Soaking your cares away while soaking in the spectacular scenery – it’s all possible in the main house primary bathroom, which features a beautiful taupe tub.
The ranch camp overlooks a pristine pond nestled into a flower-filled meadow in the foreground and the breathtaking mountain scenery beyond. The building layout contains many outdoor spaces—including a large roof-covered patio adorned with trusses and timbers on the main house—that forge connectivity to the outdoors and between the structures themselves.
“We had a lot of discussions with the owners about creating the external material personality and staying true to what was already there,” remembers Daugaard. “The intimate spaces between the main ranch camp structures serve many purposes – outdoor living, weather circulation, a reprieve from the wind and sun, and a place to simply spend time looking at the amazing views.”
The beautiful main house is a smaller, cozy space for the owners who invite friends and family to enjoy their own space in the next-door guest house.
The original homestead cabin, which sits closer to the ranch entry gate, was preserved for posterity as part of this project. “It’s amazing that this structure is still standing, and we wanted to make sure it will last forever,” Tatom says. “It’s really cool to see the original homestead; it’s like a little house on the prairie.”
There are a number of other structures strewn throughout the ranch property that enable exploration of the land. These include a mountaintop tower complete with sleeping quarters that offer a bird’s eye view of the entire ranch, as well as dry cabins, accessible by horseback or UTV, for hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
“The diversity of the ranch is rather unique with mountain ranges, meadows, timber, big skies, and water everywhere,” remarks Daugaard. “Beauty oozes from every direction, and you’re in a place that’s hardly been touched. It’s really remarkable and quite peaceful.”
The fireplace in the living room of the main house goes through to the back porch, providing year-round ambience and warmth. The antler wreath is custom-made from sheds collected on the ranch.
Centre Sky Architecture